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FSB claims UK broadband not fit for small businesses
Monday 14 July 2014 16:05:22 by John Hunt

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has today put out a new report to try and encourage government to adopt stronger targets for superfast broadband roll-out in the UK. It claims that around 45,000 business are still on dial-up connections and many more business receive a poor service from their broadband connection.

Current UK proposals are to try and reach 95% of the population with a superfast broadband speed at a minimum of 24meg broadband by 2017, with everyone else able to connect at a minimum of 2Mbps. The FSB thinks that this is failing small businesses and government should instead push for higher targets, delivering 10Mbps to all business premises by 2018-2019, and 100Mbps to all premises by 2030.

"The fact that we have around 45,000 businesses still on dial up is unacceptable and many more throughout the country, even in London, are receiving poor service. Evidence from our members shows this clearly is a problem affecting all corners of the UK, rural areas and cities alike. While progress has been made with the residential market, businesses have not enjoyed the same benefits, which is holding back their growth. We therefore want to see the UK Government show ambition with its broadband targets and put business needs at their centre. Leaving five per cent of the population with a 2Mbps connection in 2017 is not good enough."

John Allan (National Chairman), Federation of Small Businesses

Some of the other proposals that it puts forward in its paper, include focusing high-speed broadband roll at businesses, and include minimum bandwidth levels, reliable connections and improving upload speeds and latency. The FSB also think that Government should prioritise the delivery of these services to business parks and make sure that enterprise zones are fully connected. It believes that a structural reform of the broadband market is needed to deliver these objectives, and it wants the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct an assessment into the current market structure.

Many of these proposals have some merit, but it does gloss over the complexity of ripping up current policy which is currently well in progress, and the benefits this will bring to those businesses that are currently suffering from no or poor broadband services. A target of 10Mbps by 2017/8 would also fall short of the European target to get 30Mbps to all in Europe by 2020, and focusing on the lower speed may limit our ability to reach this EU target.

Unfortunately, the cost of installing an equal service to all businesses is never going to be achieved economically throughout the land challenges and population variances across the UK and therefore alternate connection methods have to be considered for different communities, consumers and businesses. There are different options out there and these can help improve broadband speeds and reliability at a reasonable cost. This might mean for some businesses installing a leased line, for others it could include bonded DSL or satellite broadband connections, which can meet speed targets with reasonable costs. Some villages or communities may gain the most benefit from fixed-wireless solutions providing a faster connection to many premises, whilst 4G services may be able to provide a minimum level of services to some customers.

Whilst businesses are a key component in the governments plans, the need to deliver to consumers also will obviously help shape a combined policy going forward.


Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
"may limit our ability to reach this EU target." - I suspect we are managing to do that ourselves. 30Mbps to ALL by 2020?? Pull the other one.

I would suggest it would be better value to get a decent, symmetrical 10Mbps with robust bandwidth performance to all than to fart around with a flakey theoretical 80Mbps to a few. The problem, of course, would be the negative impact on BT's revenue from leased lines, and we cannot have that....
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
With the average 14 % rate on the Cabs is it because customers do not want this service or do they want it free ,most customers are not interested also there are many that do not know the service is exesting in their area. There will not be many Customers in Surrey with less than 10 meg down by the end of the financial year (Apr 2015) .3% on 450000 lines. Surreys Final Phase.
Posted by George99 over 3 years ago
I cannot believe for one minute that "customers do not want this service". Everyone I know - without exception - has been screaming blue murder for it for so long that they have given up on it.

Shameful is the only way I can describe the current situation.

My MP had to write to the chairman of BT three times before getting a response, which stated that my area (Gidea Park in Romford) would not be looked at until at least 2017 and that even then we may not meet BTs commercial criteria.

Posted by George99 over 3 years ago
....and until such time we are stuck with ADSL 1Mbs.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
How many of the 45,000 businesses still on dial up can get Satellite broadband?

Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
@George99: I think that's just your particular circle of contacts. I don't know anyone who was screaming out for it. A couple definitely wanted it but most people didn't really care. They've upgraded mainly as a way to get BT Sport on the cheap.

That 14% rate is what it is, irregardless of what everyone you know is saying.
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
Anyway this report is mainly about businesses and business needs are more complex. It's tempting to say that if they can't afford a leased line they can't really need it but it's not that simple.

Although home working doesn't require huge bandwidth three or four teleworkers remoting in needs more than ADSL can provide. And teleworking is something a lot of companies like to offer as a perk to staff so the budget is limited.
Posted by timmay over 3 years ago
The aim for 2030 should be for non-rate adaptive services to 100%. I.E. able to get exactly what you pay for. Be that if you choose 1Gbit.

In the mean time to get the most out of FTTC old xDSL from the exchange needs to be phased out and turned off in the next few years so that the xDSL frequencies can be used from the cabinet to push ~20Mbps+ to ~3KM from the cabinet.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
The recent Ofcom Fixed Line Access review for 2014-2017 did include fibre access where an ATA was used for telephony in the poduct definition for copper access.
With a little imagination Ofcom could have expanded a little this to push for long line lengths to be replaced so functioning broadband of 256kbps could be upped to 2 or 10Mbps.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
Hi 99 and Others.I am sorry to hear that you have not got a good broadband service in you area but your MP has not power over a private company BT in the commercial area. We have the same problem here in Surrey (HDJ) this has gone to J Hunt MP with no action from the CEO Openreach just a date December 2014 this Cab should have been working over a year ago.
Phil. Ex Bt.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
Hi Watchers. You only need to look on the Exchange profile and you will see how many besinesses that have registered and it is very low.
This results will tempt ISP,s to go cherry picking on the Cabs this effects the lines over a radious of 1760 yards. The lines above this limit are being helped by the county council public money.
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
if its in andustiral park in gidea park it will not have met commercial crtieria and will be very small so coul be funded by developer or agent
Posted by williamtulloch over 3 years ago
There are vast areas of the country that can not get broadband by any means other than Satellite, and seem unlikely to get anything better under current plans.
The Usage allowance for Satellite (normally a few GBs) means even the video adverts use too much bandwidth. Would be happy with 2Mbps and unlimited usage rather than 6Mbps and 6GB usage per month.
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
willam i think vast is highly misleading
Posted by john (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Satellite is not going to be ideally priced for heavy users, but it has got a lot cheaper over the last couple of years. By the nature of those that would use it (those who are moving from very slow broadband / dialup) it probably would provide adequate usage levels! Some offer a speed cap at 256kbps if you go over your usage limit, and others have free overnight usage so even then a cheap low usage product could be far more useful than dialup.
Posted by broadband66 over 3 years ago
For those businesses that really require faster broadband then maybe they should have moved by now. How many home users require more than a consistent 20 mbps. Granted more is nice but not a necessity.
Posted by jumpmum over 3 years ago
Businesses can already " get exactly what you pay for."

But most don't want to pay for what they want. Some of those interviewed wanted a "residential price" for a "Business service" They could have already brought a fibre service from a number of suppliers but only wanted to pay £40PCM, My view is that if that is all they were prepared to pay it wasn't essential to the business. In my mind essential equates to the equivelent of an employee ie £25k per year. ( cheap employee)
Posted by otester over 3 years ago
This is what you get when you vote for heavy regulation/taxes.
Posted by ahockings over 3 years ago
The whole thing is arse about face anyway... as usual. The people who don't need it so bad are getting it first. People who desperately need it are having to wait years. I mean, what kind of idiot came up with that idea?
1. Scrap HS2 and divert money to fibre.
2. Activate every cab on every exchange but prioritise the furtherest away ones.
3. Anyone who can't then get fibre because of distance gets FTTH.
4. Next anyone with fibre but less than 30Mbps gets FTTH.
5. Job done. Everyone happy.
Posted by ahockings over 3 years ago
My town Totnes has about 8 cabs in the actual town itself. I have loads of customers in the town (I fix computers). The vast majority of them aren't interested in fibre as they all without exception get about 14Mbps anyway and that's more than they need. I am 5.2Km away from cab 9 and get 1.7Mbps ADSL2.
Amazing logic there!
Posted by Deezel over 3 years ago
In our village on an old clapped out market 1 exchange I think we would get better results if BT did something about the lack of capacity night time is just pathetic
NESLN exchange and not even 21cn enabled !!!!!
Posted by ahockings over 3 years ago
I was unsure if they could upgrade an exchange to FTTC if it was still 20CN.
Harbertonford exchange here in mid Devon has about 1000 connections and is basically a wooden shed with a tin roof in the middle of nowhere. Still 20CN. Three cabs. Cab 1 covers Ashprington and Tuckenhay (where Kieth Floyd had his pub), Cab 2 covers Harbertonford itself and Cab 3 covers Cornworthy a village with 0.5Mbps ADSL speeds.
Harbertonford and Cornworthy FTTC cabs are in place, Huawei 288 and Hauwei 96 respectively. Not active yet but getting there. Cab 1 going in as well. It's all happening here! : )
Posted by Gadget over 3 years ago
@ahockings - the cabinets would have their fibre twin installed (usual planning and building caveats etc) and the fibre need not connect back to equipment in the exchange (especially if a small one) but would be available to ISPs from a "parent" exchange.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
Most Cabs in Surrey are terminated back to the Old Group switching area.
Eg Haslemere Code 01428 thus fibre runs up to 10 to 15 miles this bringing in more compertion between BT ,Talktalk ,sky, plus others this changes the Markets from 1 to 3 also this is being paid for by Surrey County Council my view is that the project is 92% finished there are only a very few Cabs not standing.
Ex BT MTCE for the above Area HEC. Phil. E
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
It happens with towns as well. Judging from the spreadsheets back when Brackley was only 'coming soon(tm)' almost all of them listed Banbury as the exchange implying that our FTTC service comes from there rather than our own exchange. There was also a fault listed as affecting Banbury which also impacted us (but not ADSL which my mate still had at the time).
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
I think in Surrey they did not know where the fibre went because they did not know the GPS positions of all the Cabs I did. As for the fibre I assumed that it went to the local EXchange which was incorrect. After contacting Openreach crews on a fibre installation I twigged that the fibre could run many miles to any location. This makes all Cabs equal due to Openreach only provides service to the mile limit 1760 yards which should give 15 meg down.
The customers over this limit will be open to new technology either fibre of Cab or Mini Cabs.
Ex BT. Mtce. Surrey Area.
Posted by Somerset over 3 years ago
The 2012 survey is here -

I suspect most people get bored after the 3rd question and tick anything.
Posted by Somerset over 3 years ago

Multiple answers allowed?
Posted by jimsym over 3 years ago
Absolutely right. The scourge of industrial estates for which BT has no incentive whatsoever to connect to fibre, or worse the potential of lost leased line revenue.
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
openreach has worked with a number of indsturial estates and business parks directly to enable small cabs not covered under Commerical or BDUK programmes
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